Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 12: Isolated and Modernized New Zealand Maori

Continuing my review of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price...
The Maori are being described here as the most perfect people. We are told that a previous researcher found 1.2% of the population had dental caries, which Price calculated to be 0.05% of teeth. Wow.

"The breakdown of these people comes when the depart from their native foods to the foods of modern civilization, foods largely consisting of white flour, sweetened goods, syrup and canned goods. The effect is similar to that experienced by other races after using foods of modern civilization." (p.188) This quote could be from any of the previous chapters as well. It is such a pattern that has become apparent. As is the result produced from this change: "Particularly striking is the similarity between the deformities of the dental arches which occur in the Maori people who were born after their parents adopted the modern foods, and those of whites." (p.189)

As I looked at figure 72, I thought I could have been looking in the mirror. It started me thinking... just what foods did I eat when I was younger? How has what I've eaten changed over the years? For me, it is part of a larger question: Do I have a culture? I ask that question here because our food comes out of our culture... and if we don't identify with a culture, how do we identify with a food tradition? Or do we even have one?

In the last chapter, I noted the connection that Price had discovered between commerce and health. It seems it became a fundamental part of his thinking as he continues to use the term. In the caption to figure 74 he writes, "It is much easier for the moderns to exchange their labor for the palate-tickling devitalized foods of commerce than to obtain the native foods of land and sea." (p.190, my underlining) This is an observation so far removed from contemporary society that it is almost incomprehensible at best and wrong at worst. Most people don't think of trading their labor for anything, but in reality, that's what pay is. So what should we trade our labor for? What would it have been better for the Maori to trade for?

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